Kohl to Merkel: ‘Time to end the crisis’

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In a rare interview, Helmut Kohl, the former German chancellor, slams his protégé Angela Merkel for her handling of the euro crisis and for damaging Germany's leadership in international relations. EURACTIV Germany has the full transcript.

"We do not know where we belong or where we are going," the 81-year old Kohl said in an interview with German think-tank Internationaler Politik, republished by euractiv.de and Bild Zeitung.

The former chancellor, whose reluctance to comment publicly is well known, delivered a far-ranging and stinging attack on his country's current government.

"I would never have imagined that an American president comes to Europe and just flies over Germany," Kohl said, commenting on Barack Obama's recent trip, which did not include a stop-off in Berlin.

Germany and the US recently fell out over intervention in Libya to topple military dictator Muammar Gaddafi.  

On the euro crisis he was unequivocal in saying that Germany was partially to blame for the currency's current woes and that it had a responsibility to stand by Greece. 

The country has faced a moral and political dilemma since the onset of the first Greek bailout in February 2010. German voters are reluctantly watching their money being spent on Greek rescue deals, while the country's parliament is demanding a say on the terms of the loans.

Kohl seems tired of the whole debacle and argues that Merkel should stop trying to appease an angry electorate but rather explain why a Greek rescue is a necessary evil.

"It is time to draw a line under the crisis and to let Europe get on with other business."

The man credited with German reunification and fixing Franco-German relations in the EU boasts that none of Germany's recent mistakes would have happened under his leadership.

At the time of Greek accession to the single currency, he would have demanded "substantial structural reforms". He also claims he would not have broken the rules of the EU's Stability and Growth Pact, a series of debt ceilings which countries either respect or expect interference from Brussels.

Germany's former socialist Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and former French President Jacques Chirac are widely blamed for killing the pact's credibility when they ignored signals from the European Commission that their budget deficits surpassed the 3% threshold.

It exceeded his expectations that both the downfall of the Stability and Growth Pact and the Greek bailout debacle should happen under a Franco-German axis, Kohl remarked.

"If I had reacted to Germany's reunification with that much despondence as is the case for Greece, then it would never have happened."

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